back to article Saudis go ape, detain Swedish monkeys at border

A quartet of confused Swedish monkeys have been denied entry to Saudi Arabia – the latest development in an escalating diplomatic row between the two countries. Four tiny Amazonian monkeys, each weighing just over 100g, are at the centre of the spat that started after Sweden's foreign minister criticised Saudi Arabia's human …

  1. Ralph the Wonder Llama
    Meh

    Finally...

    ...a decent use of the enormo-picture box at the top of an article.

    1. Antonymous Coward
      WTF?

      Re: Finally...

      Eh? Splaffing up a black macaque's selfie to illustrate a story about pygmy marmosets? How on earth do you define "decent"?

      Or did you perhaps mean to comment on this article: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/04/10/apple_phantom_attack_ios_fix/?

      ;)

  2. h4rm0ny
    Alert

    Pulling a Wikipedia?

    I hope El Reg. is using that picture with permission. That's the one that the Wikipedia zealots declared was free to use because the camera was activated by a monkey, not the photographer.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pulling a Wikipedia?

      No, that's the picture the guy initially claimed was taken without him knowing, after he had put his camera down and left it. After it was pointed out that therefore the monkey owned the picture, his story changed to one where he encouraged the monkey to use his camera, which thereby assigned the copyright to him.

      If a bunch of people believed his initial story (and thought the consequences through) then that's just tough isn't it.

      1. h4rm0ny

        Re: Pulling a Wikipedia?

        >>"No, that's the picture the guy initially claimed was taken without him knowing, after he had put his camera down and left it. After it was pointed out that therefore the monkey owned the picture, his story changed to one where he encouraged the monkey to use his camera, which thereby assigned the copyright to him"

        Really? Can you back that up? Or is it a factoid made up later by a Wikimedia supporter? He had specifically travelled around the world to photograph the macaques, he had purchased the equipment he spent a week slowly getting the monkeys familiar with himself so that they would be comfortable around him and his equipment, he set up cameras ready, he did the expert work of photo selection, post-production work (I can tell you for a fact that photos don't just come off the SD card looking like that). And at the end of all that, Wikimedia Foundation take his most lucrative and valuable return on all that expense and effort, and start posting it without recompense because they say a monkey activating the camera makes it uncopyrightable. Better throw out all those BBC wildlife documentaries as well because the camera they set up was auto-triggered by a wandering animal in the night (despite that in both cases, that was the intent of the photographers).

        Honestly, Wikipedia's attitude to other people's work is sickening.

    2. DropBear
      FAIL

      Re: Pulling a Wikipedia?

      No, this is a different picture - the one the US Copyright Office declared explicitly uncopyrightable on December 22, 2014. Sorry you missed that one old chap, do try to keep up!

      1. FIA Silver badge

        Re: Pulling a Wikipedia?

        No, this is a different picture - the one the US Copyright Office declared explicitly uncopyrightable on December 22, 2014. Sorry you missed that one old chap, do try to keep up!

        ...and of course the US copyright office has full and final juristiction over a British photographer working in Indonesia.

        God bless America.

  3. Ian Bush
    Black Helicopters

    Are you listening Mr Hammond?

    "Sweden's foreign minister criticised Saudi Arabia's human rights record.

    Last month, foreign minister Margot Wallström said it was unethical for Sweden to continue with its military co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia."

    Well said. Mr Hammond, are you listening?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Are you listening Mr Hammond?

      There is Shiis to bomb and military gear to be delivered to open hands holding barrels of oil, we ain't gonna stop now, will we? Can't we look past the little amount of Wahabism?

    2. fritsd

      more background

      There's actually more to this, minister Wallström was *invited* to address the Arab League, but her speech contained "gender equality" and "women", so the Saudis got angry and forbade her to come!

      After which Sweden asked "so why do we want military cooperation with Saudi Arabia again?"

      Sweden had taken the unprecedented step to be the first EU country to recognize the Palestinian State, October last year. So that brought Sweden "closer" to the Arab countries. But when Sweden says: "and we also root for the 50% of your people that are women" it's suddenly anathema. Sad.

      Link: http://www.thelocal.se/20150309/saudi-arabia-blocks-wallstrm-at-arab-league-report

  4. jake Silver badge

    Thank gawdess the poor little critters didn't get shipped!

    If they did, they probably would have been ordered beheaded or stoned to death as spies on entry to the country by the PrimatePartyInCharge.

    (Hint to Al Saud: Join the modern world. You are being mocked world-wide. For a reason.)

    1. Robert Helpmann??
      Childcatcher

      Re: Thank gawdess the poor little critters didn't get shipped!

      I would be fascinated to learn what constitutes "flagrant ignorance." Not first-hand, mind you.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Thank gawdess the poor little critters didn't get shipped!

      Join the modern world.

      Implying they will do that before ISIS takes over the whole show from the inside.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @DAM (was: Re: Thank gawdess the poor little critters didn't get shipped!)

        "Implying they will do that before ISIS takes over the whole show from the inside."

        Uh ... is it dirty little (not very) secret time?

    3. h4rm0ny

      Re: Thank gawdess the poor little critters didn't get shipped!

      >>"If they did, they probably would have been ordered beheaded or stoned to death as spies"

      Hartlepool and Saudi Arabia. They're in good company with each other, it seems.

    4. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Thank gawdess the poor little critters didn't get shipped! @Jake

      The Al Saud regime are actually wanting to be more moderate. According to a recent article on the BBC Radio 4 "Today" program, The Al Saud family have no control over the judiciary in Saudi Arabia, which is controlled by a council of quadis (religious clerics), totally independent from the King. This body implements and maintains Sharia law in the country, and is generally understood to be the main reason why Saudi Arabia has widely publicised harsh sentencing for certain crimes.

      This situation has come about because of concessions King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud (the founding father of Saudi Arabia) made with the Islamic clerics of the day in order to maintain control of the tribes he conquered in the early part of the last century to found the country.

      The only area where they overlap is in the final appeal process, which goes to the King. But it is generally accepted that the King has limited leeway in overturning any judgements of the courts, because of the fear that the Royal Family could be ousted from their current position by the rest of the government, particularly the judiciary. And there is a looming problem in that they are running out of sons of King Abdulaziz to become King (the title has moved sideways through one generation of the family by prior nomination from the recently deceased King, rather than down through the younger generations like most Royal Houses). When the current King dies, there may well be a dispute about the next King.

      If there is a dispute, the situation in the Middle East could well get so much worse, as because of the House of Al Saud, Saudi is one of the few stable western-leaning countries in the region, even if it does have some undesirable aspects.

      As in so many things, the situation is not as simple as portrayed by the media, particularly that in the US.

      It's a shame that the lessons of a century of marginal British colonial policy in the Middle East have been ignored by the western governments since the second world war, as it was clear at the end of the Victorian era that the best thing that can be done was to stop interfering, and accept these people will find their own form of government. If that had been allowed to happen, we would probably have a much more stable and moderate region that wanted to co-exist with western countries, rather than the fragmented reactionary religious mess that we currently have that wants to tear down and conquer The West and their allies in any way possible.

      1. goodjudge

        Re: Thank gawdess the poor little critters didn't get shipped! @Jake

        "It's a shame that the lessons of a century of marginal British colonial policy in the Middle East have been ignored by the western governments since the second world war, as it was clear at the end of the Victorian era that the best thing that can be done was to stop interfering, and accept these people will find their own form of government."

        Unfortunately the interfering goes back beyond WW2 - the Sykes-Picot stitch-up after WW1 ignored those same lessons and created arbitary and artificial borders to meet UK / French military and business interests, not those of the people who actually lived there. It's pretty much gone Pete Tong ever since, starting with the Kurdish rebellion in 1920.

        1. Blitheringeejit
          Mushroom

          @goodjudge

          >>It's pretty much gone Pete Tong ever since,

          Doesn't that rather depend whether you're in the arms business or not? Some would say it's getting better every day...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seems a sensible decision

    With the Saudi record on human rights, they might start decapitating small primates for doing a whole lot of things that small primates do that are illegal in Saudi, like public pooping and sex.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seems a sensible decision

      The Swedes don't have a spotless record on animal "immigrants" either - when the Pakistanis sent 3 horses as a diplomatic gift in the 90's, there was a quarantine mix-up and the Swedes promptly shot them. History does not relate whether they ended up in Ikea meatballs.

  6. smartypants

    Ethical Foreign Policy

    "Last month, foreign minister Margot Wallström said it was unethical for Sweden to continue with its military co-operation agreement with Saudi Arabia"

    She must be wrong. Our government has long had an 'Ethical Foreign Policy' and considers Saudi Arabia to be the perfect allies in the 'War on Terror' against those people who would er... chop heads off, lock away their women and flay people for being gay or believing in the wrong religion... oh hang on...

  7. Blitheringeejit
    WTF?

    Where does the money lead when you follow it?

    One thing which puzzles me about the ever-increasing military horrors being visited on almost everyone in the region, from Aleppo to Aden - who is making and selling all that ordnance?

    I know who supplies Saudi, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar etc - that would be "us", the UK, US, France, Sweden and the rest of the "West". Given that all the regimes we're selling to are despotic, this is blatantly hypocritical in terms of anything we might call an "ethical foreign policy", but it's irresistably lucrative, because that's a LOT of hardware, with accompanying profits and jobs, and it's politically acceptable in the supplier counties because none of their folks are being shot at.

    But who makes and sells the bullets that ISIS, the Houthis etc are firing back? What are the manufacturer's stamps on that ordnance? There seems to be no shortage of supplies, so if it's us selling to them too (albeit via circuitous and anonymised routes), how immoral is that?

    And if it isn't "us", how rubbish are "our" arms salesmen?

    Morality makes my brane hurt.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Where does the money lead when you follow it?

      Most of it's been captured from the Syrians and Iraqis. A lot of former USSR stuff... AK's, RPG's, etc. Rolling stock is a mix of what was sold in the area and captured. And apparently they are now trying to buy or buying AA missiles, etc. I'm not sure where they would be buying that from.

  8. x 7

    Pygmy marmosets wouldn't meet Saudi standards anyway.

    Last time I was at Monkey World in Dorset I was treated to the scene of three male marmosets - one being pinned down by a second while the third was buggering the first (the smallest). Highly amusing reactions from the crowds of watching kids, and even more amusing reactions from the parents when the kids asked for an explanation.......

    I can just believe that if this scene played out in a Saudi zoo that the monkeys would be facing a religious court

    (and just by way of explanation - the marmosets were in a male-only non-breeding group, with females close by in another cage and were presumably frustrated)

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      They'd really be in trouble if they loved bacon sarnies. And I'm sure any female marmosets would willing to wear the Saudi equivalent of a burka.

  9. A Ghost
    Holmes

    If you gave enough cameras to enough monkeys

    all around the world, given enough time, it's accepted that they would recreate the entire works of David Bailey.

    I might have got my metaphors mixed up on that one. Or I might just be all mixed up in general.

    Whatever.

    The saudis really threw the toys out of the pram with this one.

    Did you know they have some of the biggest dairy farms on earth with thousands of cows in the middle of the desert, producing subsidised milk from the subsidised oil? Of course water is needed as well, and these cows as well as the oil fields are bleeding the natural aquifers dry. It's cheaper just to suck it out of the ground, than to transport it vast distances in extreme heat. Like Peter Tosh says, 'You never miss your water, till your aquifer runs dry'. It might be hard replacing the oil that comes out of the ground, but it really isn't very much easier replacing the water, either.

    Also, something like a third of its entire energy production is put back into cheap/free domestic usage. Or it will be soon, if the projected usage is correct. The more oil they produce, the richer they get, the more people buy air conditioners, the more power that is needed to keep the people happy, reductio ad absurdum or recursiveo ad absurdum, see page 269 of K&R for more info on this. And you really need to keep the people happy. SA is a big country. With lots of pipes. Lots of potential for hilarity to ensue, if you know what I mean.

    It's going to be a different game in a hundred years time. Saudi Arabia will still have the empty quarter (but probably without the cows) and Sweden will still be inhabited by the descendants of Vikings, with the odd fjord or glacier thereabouts too.

    Never mind the bloody monkeys, they got off lightly. It's the cows I'm worried about -

    http://www.theoildrum.com/node/10238

    See:

    https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=dairy+farms+in+saudi&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&gws_rd=cr&ei=zzwoVaq5K8KrUYaSgYgH

    Not sure about the glaciers in Sweden. You might have to do your own research on that one.

  10. x 7

    If the Saudis are burning that much oil, all they have to to is condense the exhaust and they'll be OK for water

    1. A Ghost

      Well, that is where a lot of that energy is going - desalination.

      Water is a very touchy subject for them, much more so than oil.

      It's one thing wanting to keep your population supplicated by providing low cost energy for AC, but fresh water is another.

      Water was more expensive than petrol last time I was there. Sweet water (drinking water), that is.

      The oil will run out, but so will the water from the natural aquifers. And when the oil runs out, those desalination plants will grind to a halt. It's not like they are transitioning to solar power for them to work. How much would that cost? To design? Build? Run?

      It's not just the energy needed to desalinate the sea water (where else you gonna get it from, duh?), it's the transportation/piping of that water to where it's needed. A lot of that transportation is fed by oil/petrol for tankers to rural places - they don't have the whole entire country 'piped up' that would just be silly. People still live in the middle of nowhere there, even if the empty quarter is pretty much totally uninhabited. So that is another two things to consider.

      No, better to frequent the whore houses of Paris while Jeddah/Mecca burns.

      My Grandfather rode a camel, my Father rode in a car, I ride in a jet plane, my son will probably die of thirst...

      1. Andy Davies

        When I was last there it was widely believed that the main de-sal plants were nuclear!

  11. southen bastard

    Well, that is where a lot of that energy is going - desalination.

    The oil will run out, but so will the water from the natural aquifers. And when the oil runs out, those desalination plants will grind to a halt. It's not like they are transitioning to solar power for them to work. How much would that cost? To design? Build? Run?

    cost?

    well Solar de sal is more cost intensive than other forms, for the first 5-6 years then its almost freeeeee after that

    To design?

    already been designed,

    Build?

    can get turn key units from Canada and other places

    Run?

    Can get the monkeys to run them , its prity simple , tho for an arab i dont know.

    1. A Ghost

      Re: Well, that is where a lot of that energy is going - desalination.

      Interesting what you say on the cost/design/build/run question.

      It was a genuine question even though it may have sounded a bit rhetorical.

      Still, it pretty much confirmed my assumptions, at least with regard to cost. These things are hugely expensive anyway, so who will be the first Saudi prince/king to dip his hand in his pocket and say 'I'll build it'? I mean, they could just be sensible about it and make some kind of governmental policy on it. I don't know, maybe they have/will.

      But we are already seeing them going to war with Yemen which has an extremely serious water shortage. And it will only get worse. There's certainly no infrastructure being built there. In fact, thousands of Yemenis are already dying every year due to water shortage conflict. Saudi is right next door with just the one border. Wonder if that has anything at all do with the recent conflict (directly or indirectly)? I'm not sure whether that question was rhetorical or not.

      The arabs are extremely clever people, but centuries of dumbing down hasn't helped their cause much. The people in power there just outsource everything, not even pretending to invest in their country in real world terms. It's almost like they know it is temporary and it's not worth it...

      It's an interesting question whether they are investing in solar desalination. It would kind of be suicidal for them not to. I'll have to do a bit of research. Shame that oil drum place shut down, that was a great resource.

      A quick google threw this up - http://cleantechnica.com/2015/01/22/worlds-largest-solar-powered-desalination-plant-under-way/

      and this - http://www.water-technology.net/projects/al-khafji-solar-saline-water-reverse-osmosis-solar-swro-desalination-plant/

      Mmmm... one plant seems to be being built, and reverse osmosis, so at least they are doing something. Who knows if it's proof of concept stuff or grandstanding for the 'renewables' and 'environmental' crowd.

      I seem to vaguely remember the little research I did before that there was some kind of problem with all of this though. Just not enough money/political will is being put into a very scientific equation - the oil will run out, the sun won't stop being very hot there, they have a booming economy and a booming population, that population is kept placated by cheap energy and access to fresh water, as the population goes up so does the energy consumption, etc. etc.

      I'll have to have a scan of the oil drum archives again to see.

      It seems to be that they could gain a major move on this if they acted now and put in some serious investment, but a lot of experts are saying 'too little too late' kind of thing iirc. I don't know. I'm just getting interested in water shortages as a driver for future wars and conflicts. Lake Baikal - the world's oldest and deepest, and largest (by volume) fresh water lake has gone 'critical' by something like 7Cm under level again or something like that for a couple of years in a row now. So it's not just the middle east.

      It's an interesting subject for sure. Not sure how we got here from there (monkeys), but there ya go...

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